Hindu engineer renovates mosque in India’s Kerala for Ramadan

Acts of solidarity challenge tension between the two communities during the holy month

Hindu engineer P V Soorya Narayanan, 58, renovates a mosque in Kerala for Ramadan. Photo: Manzoor Palliparambil

A Hindu engineer on holiday in India’s southern Kerala state has paid for a mosque to be restored after local Muslims failed to raise funds before Ramadan.

P V Soorya Narayanan, 58, was visiting his ancestral home in Vattaloor in Malappuram last month when he noticed the decaying walls of the neighbourhood mosque, Masjidul Ummarul Farook.

Mr Narayanan, who works in Qatar as an engineer, met mosque officials to inquire about the dilapidated condition of the building's dilapidated condition, and offered more than $660 to have it painted and repaired.

“It is customary for the mosques in Kerala, in fact across the world, to get cleaned and painted before Ramadan but due to the pandemic and shortage of funds, the mosque could not be painted,” Manzoor Palliparambil, general secretary of the mosque, told The National.

“His family lives near the mosque. He asked his cousin, who runs a construction firm, to get the mosque painted and paid for the services.”

Mr Narayanan’s contribution to the mosque is a rare but not uncommon gesture in India, where tension between Hindus and Muslims is rising.

Last month, a Muslim businessman donated land worth millions of rupees for a Hindu temple touted as the world’s tallest religious monument, in eastern Bihar state.

But animosity is soaring in neighbouring Karnataka, where Hindu groups have tried to prevent Muslims from following Islamic customs such as wearing hijab and eating halal meat.

Muslims have also been barred from doing business near Hindu temples.

Hindu groups in the coastal state have also objected to the use of loudspeakers for azaan, the daily call for prayer, at mosques in recent weeks.

But Mr Palliparambil called Mr Narayanan’s gesture an example of the “Kerala model” of development to preserve and promote communal harmony and social justice.

Kerala, which has more than 36 million residents, is a Hindu-dominated state, with Muslim and Christian populations at nearly 45 per cent.

The tiny state is ruled by a left-leaning government and largely remains unaffected by the sectarian strife elsewhere in the country.

“He has set an example of communal harmony in the state … Hindus and Muslims live peacefully here and it is not rare for people from other communities to help each other,” Mr Palliparambil said.

Updated: April 06, 2022, 4:25 PM